It’s been a full year since the unthinkable to happened to country artist Granger Smith and his wife Amber. Their three-year-old son River drowned in the pool at their Texas home on a quiet summer night.
“I was 20 feet away,” Smith said during an open and honest interview with NBC’s Today show on Wednesday (July 1). It is the first time the Smiths have talked about the tragedy on TV.
“I was playing gymnastics with my daughter. He was outside of the locked gate with our other son. And there wasn’t music playing. There wasn’t any kind of distraction. It was just a quiet 7:00 p.m. summer evening,” he recalled. “It was so silent. There wasn’t a splash. There wasn’t any kind of call for help.
“I just saw him.”
And even though the Smiths have had some time to start to mourn and heal, there’s still a feeling that they should’ve done more and known more. “I’m still mad at myself that we had a pool, and I didn’t know that it’s the leading killer. I would’ve thought a year ago: supervision,” he said. “Just watch your kids. Just watch them. I know now that no human being on this planet is capable to say that’s enough, because that requires 24, 7.”
The Smiths had had all the right precautions in place, but that still didn’t prevent River’s death.
“If you add a gate, that’s not enough.”
“If you add swimming lessons, that’s not enough.”
“Pool alarm, that’s not enough,” he added.
Having faith in a higher power, Smith said, is the only thing his family has been able to hold onto in the darkest times.
“(River) had 1,000+ days on this earth. And he lived them so carefree, bare feet, and running with the wind,” Smith said of Riv and the mantra that keeps him in their hearts every day: #LiveLikeRiv. “And can’t we all just live a little bit more like that? A little more in the moment? It’s been a great mantra to kind of repeat to myself in the dark days.”